Las Vegas Sun

July 19, 2019

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Culinary workers urge protection for immigrants under federal programs

With the future of immigrants under two federal relief programs in limbo, about 200 union workers in Las Vegas met today with Democratic political candidates and federal lawmakers, urging them to save the programs and keep families together. 

“Support our cause, because we want to stay here,” Nery Martinez, a 17-year Las Vegas resident who works at a Caesars Palace bar, said at the rally at Culinary Workers Union Local 226 headquarters. “I can’t imagine if I was separated from my family.”

Martinez came to the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status program after fleeing an earthquake in his home nation of El Salvador in 2001. His two children were born in the United States, and Martinez said the proposed end of the program would threaten his ability to support them.

Martinez was among several culinary workers to speak with Democratic U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, U.S. Reps. Dina Titus and Jacky Rosen, and congressional candidates Susie Lee and Steven Horsford. They all pledged their support for extending the TPS and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals programs as means to a path for permanent citizenship.

Rosen, seeking to unseat Republican U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, voiced her support for the American Promise Act, a bill that would provide a path to citizenship for TPS recipients.

TPS protects migrants in the United States from countries experiencing dire conditions such as epidemics, war or natural disaster.

Previous administrations have opted to extend the protections for those from most of the countries involved every few years. But President Donald Trump’s administration has moved to end protections for the majority of immigrants under the program, arguing that the conditions that necessitated them are no longer present.

Rosen said that if elected to the Senate, she would help act as a “check to Trump” to advance opportunities for immigrants and middle-class families.

“Although your status is temporary, your dreams and ambitions are not,” Rosen said.